Select quotes from Call for Evidence testimony.

Substance abuse

cut down on the amount I drank. This did not go unnoticed and I would of get comments of “woss”, and occasionally “your not turning queer are you?”

Had I had support, I would not have reached for alcohol, I would not have pretended to be someone I wasn’t, I would have been far happier and I would not have left as early as I did.

Government apology

The Government needs to accept why the ban was in place. Noting to do with defence of the realm and all to do with bigotry and hatred. Accept that the Army, Navy, RAF police and SIB acted out of malice, bigotry and hatred in most cases. Own up to the hostility of the environment that defence created for no good reason.


I was caught, whatever my response, I was doomed. I decided to keep my integrity, I was honest.

The army treated homosexuality like a highly infectious disease; I was relieved of all military duties, placed in quarantine.


There are years where I do not have any photos because I had to destroy them in case there was a ‘witch hunt’.

Bullying, harassment and discrimination

a psychological war of attrition on your very being your soul your self.

I was in constant trouble for minor infractions. Infractions that wouldn’t not normally warrant full military disciplinary action.

I was severely punished for being me. Not for what I was, a professional soldier but because of who I was.

I felt as if I had a target on my back.

It was oppressive, discriminatory, fear inducing and highly sexualised which was embarrassing and humiliating.

I’d had enough of hiding who I was so I left the forces. I was fed up of the suspicion, the snide comments, the accusations & the general hostility.

The culture and atmosphere was so homophobic at the time and, while I was accepted and respected, I felt the floor could give way at any moment.

I had ‘internalised’ this homophobia too, and was very hard on myself, and joined in the homophobic banter.

I was Bullied and experienced a hatred from Officers and Soldiers. I was excluded from outside activities and treated with contempt.

Homophobic comments were rife at all levels, if you were not white, alpha male, heterosexual, beer swilling rugby loving male, then the banter was aimed at you…

Bullying, harassment and discrimination, abuse

There was a special kind of mental terror, deep humiliation, rip roaring mental and physical fear to be sent to an RN Psychiatrist Cdr.

I was told to ring my family in front of everyone and tell them why I was being kicked out of the army. This was appalling as my family had no idea I was gay.

 Military community

I attend reunions but I feel unworthy. I cannot reconcile the twenty-one-year-old inside my head with my own later life experiences. That twenty-one-year-old is still adrift in my mind, still lost and discarded.


 I thought that if I did apply for compensation I would be exposed by the MOD or press as to what happened to me and that would be like broadcasting to the World.


 I was treated as completely disposable, an outcast, of no value.

My mind was so taken over by my dysphoria that I would forget the simple things of military life like reading daily orders, wearing the correct uniform for a particular task.

I was terrified of how people would treat me and think of me.

I was ashamed for a long while, I felt dirty and abused by the investigation and very angry.

[I had] a deep feeling that there must be something fundamentally ‘wrong’ with me given the way gay people were being treated.

Accompanying the fear was the notion that there was something fundamentally ‘wrong’ with me, which meant… that I was an inferior human being and would be thought of as such by anyone who knew I was gay.

until very recently I had never been called a veteran. I’d always been left with feeling I was “a vile homosexual”…

I remember the first time I was told I was a veteran, I was called a veteran, I broke down in tears. I had never been called a veteran before. It had never been acknowledged that I had served my country before.

I was made to feel a criminal.

My achievements have not brought happiness or lessened the shame and humiliation I experienced; if anything it has often highlighted it.

The ban made me feel like I was a criminal.

Thank you to all those impacted by the ban for your service to your country and your activism to right this wrong.

All women who served should be treated the same. We gave service to our country and queen this should be recognised by everyone.

If the ban hadn’t been lifted in 2000 who knows where or what I would be doing but it would have been the RNs loss.

 it just made me feel anxious about being myself and it was a constant battle to either live a lie or live the truth.

I was always worried about losing my career. I was never able to be myself and the pretence was hard work.

One of the characteristics of being an officer is integrity and yet from the very start of my career I was being forced to lie about an aspect of my life.

It was obvious from this early stage that in no way would I be able to be myself and that if I wanted to stay in the Navy I would have to live a lie.

I will always feel ashamed of was the fact that I lied about who I was.

I was a successful soldier, ambitious, able and already a Sergeant at 22 years of age. None of that seemed to matter-suddenly the ‘lesbian’ took priority and nothing else mattered.

Instantly I know this was my calling and enjoyed ever aspect of the Army.The camaraderie, the friendship, the adventure and the sheer variety was right up my street.

it totally broke and destroyed me.

I felt rejected, humiliated and worthless.

I was confused and felt ashamed and very much alone for being who I was.

 felt terrified of all the consequences and what life in the future would be like. My whole world imploded before my eyes it was truly dreadful.

I felt broken.

I was deeply upset, furious and devastated to have lost my chosen career.

I felt very distressed, humiliated, ashamed, and terrified of being ‘thrown out’.

I loved the Army…and the MoD cut my career short! This has always been a deep wound…and loss of what my career could have been.

I felt extreme shame, embarrassed, hurt and annoyed the way I was treated during questioning, You live in constant fear and feel you are bring watched all the time.

I was made to feel dirty, disgraced, the WRAF was my life I loved it.

I am now embarrassed of who I am and was. My career is tainted with shame.

Throughout my service there was always a fear of someone reporting you to other senior personnel.

I felt lost and alone.

It remains one of the most hurtful and embarrassing things ever to have happened to me.

I was age 19. I had no idea I may be gay. I had no idea it was illegal to be gay in the Army. I really had no idea what being gay was.

I was once a fit, health conscious young woman and loved the outdoors and a zest for life. Confident and proud to serve my county. Due to what the military did to me I ended up a shell of a person with no sense of identity.

The Army was my life and my family and it was taken away from me so quickly.

 I felt angry and deeply saddened that I had to leave something I loved and gave my life too.

we were robbed of our careers for loving the wrong sex.

The Navy was my life and my extended family. If I had been found out, I would have been forcibly outed in front of my mates and family.

the ban destroyed my youth, and that I will never get back

The fact that this was done by the HM Government that I sought to serve made it particularly hurtful and damaging. My government caused me years of sickening worry and phycological torment, each and every day.

The government caused us to feel ashamed, humiliated and worthless.

I couldn’t spend my whole life in denial…. the best thing I ever did was join the Army…. the Second best thing was to leave

All that was running through my mind was am I going to be kicked out of the mob, what about my parents finding out, my friends, my world was literally crumbling around me.

My Army career was exemplary my only fault was being gay.

I felt rejected, by the forces family that I had been so proud to be a part of.

Removing the barriers and liberating young men and women to openly explore their sexuality without fear of reprisals and punishment really makes me feel that my sacrifice and the sacrifice of others along the way has helped us to reach this refreshingly new “normal”.

Despite completing my full service every day up to 2000 was a struggle to be me.

It seemed that I had no rights and I was completely at their mercy.

The potential of losing what I’d built for myself because someone I didn’t know put my name on a list.

My life and any potential career I might have aspired to was gone.

No account of my ability was taken into consideration – just my sexual orientation.

I cut short my Army career because I began to find it harder and harder to hide who I was and to deny myself the honesty most others find in relationships.

The only thing I did “wrong” was that I sought it with another man, and that destroyed my life and me.

All I had done to put me in the situation was to be gay. Why had they done this to me just because I was gay?

I was forced to come out as being gay way before I would have chosen too, I was humiliated, bullied, taken advantage of during a difficult time…

LGBT service personnel were not the enemy.

I was very lucky in that no one suspected i was gay and therefore I did not experience direct discrimination. However, the thought of dishonourable discharge or worse still imprisonment was terrifying.

I have had to stand and watch other veterans turn up at remembrance parades with the medals and cap badges on their berets, of the ranks they achieved. If I were to wear mine, it would not be at the rank I should have got to…

The ban on being gay meant that everyone, whether they were sympathetic or not, did not want to become involved in helping individuals incase they too were tarnished…

Constantly being knocked back, being judged on your past, denied the opportunity to better your prospects and punished for a crime which had long since been decriminalized.

The army was very good at building you up into a disciplined, fit and confident person. But they were also extremely good at destroying your sole and breaking you.

I felt I could not continue in an organisation which would not accept a gay persons’ ability to serve with pride and honour.

I was like a lamb thrown to the wolves.

[…] I felt that the CofE Chaplain aboard the ship was someone I could confide in […] he held his hand out in a stop sign and said that if anything I said to him contravened military law, he had a duty to report it to the captain…

The MOD failed in its duty of care, as my legal guardian, and contributed to my failure to develop fully into a confident well adjusted human being.

The Navy gave me absolutely no support at all, even when I reported the unwanted attempts at a sexual relationship by one of my officers… …This left me more despondent because I felt nobody really cared for my welfare, feelings or emotional state.

I was not offered any support or guidance and was made to feel that I was a social pariah.

I felt that I had no option to end my dream career and life’s ambition and hand my notice in, in order to be able to lead a normal life with shame and embarrassment.

Dreams are what you can build your life on, fantasies are to escape your life, and I now can now only have fantasies of what might have been, never the dream I once had.

No matter how amazing my civilian career has been, it’s not the career I wanted.

My life was all about being in the forces and my dream was slipping away.

My desire to serve was more important to me at the time than being my authentic self.

I lost everything at 17 years old, my life should’ve been starting. A career I’d always wanted, proud member of HM Forces.

I felt scared of the thought of a life outside the military as that was the only thing I ever wanted to do.

shame, embarrassment and the devastation of knowing the career I loved and was good at, was over.

I loved my uniform. I loved the pride I had in the way I looked and felt in my uniform. If only I hadn’t had to hide who I was….If only I had not felt terrified all the time….

The Navy had become my family, my home, everything to me and I wanted nothing else…

It literally broke my heart […] Within an instant I lost the opportunity to serve my country, I lost my livelihood, I lost my home, I lost my friends some of whom had become like family to me…

I feel robbed of a chance to forge a career in the Army.

I felt sad that I had to leave the Army the way I did. I enjoyed being a part of a family I surpose you could call it. I wanted to serve my country and be proud to wear a uniform that the world recognised.

I often think of how my life would of been if gays were accepted at that time and what rank i might of been and postings i missed out on.


My experience was absolutely devastating. I lost the only job I ever wanted in my life. I had no where to live. No plans, no life at that time. It felt like my world had ended in that moment.

Not only had I lost my job but also my home.

My life had completely fallen a part. I was devastated.

I lost my career, friends, lifestyle everything I had known from the age of 16 gone because of something I had no control over.

I lost both my permanent and then volunteer roles because of how my genetics formed. I’ve had to live with that shame forever.

No hearing, no evidence, just “”discharge shore””. My world fell apart.

I returned home a quiet .. unconfident ..ashamed fraction of the person I was ..

I asked what evidence my dismissal was based on, and was told they didn’t need evidence, they just needed to suspect it.

Devastated – My career, my life, my friends, my world, my independence, I lost everything.

I was fit to serve one day, then thrown away the next. Nothing had changed that would have impacted my ability. I, like others, was left to feel less than 2nd class.

The military, who I would of given my life for, cut me off and dumped me, like soiled goods.

The fact that one day you are an honourable member of a community defending the safety of the British people and the next you are on the street having to pick up the pieces up of your life.

Double life

 I found myself leading a double life

lived a double life, fearful that I would be found out and kicked out.

I had to live a double life for the best part of nearly 15 years

My life was built around a lie and I couldn’t be true to myself because it was unlawful.

I felt I had to have a relationship with a female to prove that I was straight, after years of doing this it became the “norm”…

Knowing the possibility of being found out, every day was spent deliberately hiding in plain sight.

Young women could not admit they were gay and were often coerced in to having unwanted sex or sexual activity in order to “prove” they were not gay.

I knew I could no longer face the stress of leading a double life.

I couldn’t envisage living a lie for another decade.

I didn’t want to have an army career where I was constantly looking over my shoulder …every week thinking ‘I have got away with it again!’ When I was asked why I didn’t keep it to myself …the truth was that it wasn’t an option!

It was more the fact that I had to lie for over 20 years. I still lie today despite still serving. I had to live a double life for years afraid of the consequences of being identified as gay.

I was never allowed to be, or feel, my true self.

I was so worried they would inform my family about me before I could tell them myself.

I felt dirty and ashamed of something that was an ‘awful secret’ – or so it felt.

The constant threat of discovery, the fear of being ostracised by “”friends”” and colleagues become too much to be able to bare.

During-service experience

Despite enjoying my service and the opportunities it gave me, I am saddened that as a young adult I was forced to stay closeted and that my life was conducted in what I call an underground community.

I was in love with another woman, who was also in the service, and it was clear that our only chance at having an honest relationship, was to leave the service.

I had become pretty homophobic, if anyone came near me, I would react quite aggressively – so intense was my fear of being found out.

Enforced ban

It felt at times that I was hugely conflicted in as much as I wanted to follow orders , uphold military law BUT good people , talented and loyal individuals were hunted and discharged.

as an NCO of the Royal Military Police I was always mindful that I may be required to do so at some point and that this would cause me a great conflict

the ‘ban’ was frequently talked about striking fear into pretty much anyone as at the time the consequences of being ‘perceived’ as LGBT were almost as horrific as being caught.

I shamefully accepted it as ‘the way that it was’ even though I would not have wanted to act if I found someone to be homosexual. It seemed ridiculous that there was this ban, and behaviour by heterosexual men was outrageous yet not discouraged.

I just wish I had made more of a fuss about it – to ban it sooner. And I wish I was more educated at that time to realise the huge impact the ban had had on people.


I lost my Army family when I left.

I couldn’t tell my parents, I had to lie to them about leaving, I felt humiliated, embarrassed, stressed.

My life was never the same after that, having to explain to my family and friends why the sudden departure of the Career that I so longed for since I was young.

I was forced into coming out to my family before I was ready.


I was broke and broken.

I lost my reputation, my employment and my sense of place. A burgeoning career in the military was cut short, my earnings, promotion prospects, pension pot and attraction to future employers diminished.

Friendships inside and outside the military

Nothing was ever quite the same as the sense of comradeship and belonging I experienced in the Army.

I was afraid to have female friends, afraid to get too close to anyone, afraid that I would be disgraced.

Friends who were gay ‘disappeared’ out of the blue after their sexuality was discovered and they were removed from camp and it was difficult to show them the support the needed or you would be questioned yourself.

I could not confide in friends or family as to do so would have placed them in the invidious position of lying on my behalf.

I miss the comradeship the most

We lost friendships, learnt who were real friends, and endured some truly disturbing times


I wax told to “p*** myself” as there was no way I would get to access a toilet until I admitted to being gay.

I was then subjected to the most horrific, vulgar and obscene interview I could ever describe…

Investigation experience

I lived my life in total fear about my homosexuality being found out by the SIB

I could no longer continue to live not being myself. I was constantly looking over my shoulder waiting to hear I was to be investigated…

the people investigating and questioning me were friends and colleagues.

during the interrogation they said they had a letter from someone who alleges that i was gay. That was it. that one letter.

5 half years doing a job i loved. gone. because of my ALLEGED homosexuality

the consequences of being caught in someone else’s bedspace in the middle of the night were dire.

I saw the aftermath of bombings, with death, trauma and destruction, but all this paled into insignificance, compared to this SIB investigation.

[…] they said that the person in the picture was my girlfriend. I never got that photograph returned to me. It was the only picture I had of my sister and I together…

[…] The SIB even, during a search of my personal effects opened a box of tampons, stripped them of their wrappers and inspected every one. I have never been as horrified and humiliated since in my whole life…

I was searched for “”evidence of gay””. I’m not sure what “”evidence of gay”” looks like but as I was in uniform they probably found my ID card and a packet of Polos.

My younger brother had […] confided in us that he was gay. He was my brother and it made no difference to me what his sexuality was […] at the same time I raided the accommodation of fellow soldiers looking for circumstantial evidence to prove they were either lesbian or gay. It was an awful situation to be in…


I had to be very careful what I did, where I went, who I shared my thoughts with and what I wrote in letters back home.

Mental health

I was never allowed to properly care for my own wellbeing.

I do not want this for the next generation moving forward, I would want them to leave the service feeling equal, respected and to be able to achieve their hopes and dreams without any repercussions.

There was no after care or concern for our wellbeing after being dismissed.

the damage done is largely psychological and has become part of my concept of ‘self’ and I have lived with this for the vast majority of my adult life.

the mental scars of being made to feel that you are disgusting and worthless did run very deep and I struggled to get to the good place that I am in today.

What the Army did to that twenty-one-year-old has left a permanent, invisible scar on me that will never go away.

I have lived with having lied to my parents ever since, and now they are both no longer here I can’t even make it right.

The humiliation and the embarrassment of being accused, The pain in your chest that you had ‘done something wrong’ and the panic at what was going to happen with the rest of your life and the possibility of being charged with a criminal act and being put in prison.

It is very difficult to articulate the internal sense of constant fear that pervades every cell in the body.

The physiological effect this had on my body was detrimental to my overall health and well-being […] and my mental health.

I lost so much of me. I have lost so much of my life, certainly my 20s. It took me until I reached my fifties to feel content, but I have never lost the deep-rooted fear that abounds when others enquire about my personal circumstances. It affects me every day.

After being dismissed […] the overwhelming feeling was of a great loss, a grief for the loss of everything that had been my life, my very existence.

My mental health was poor and I knew that I could not seek help from the military medical system because I would be reported and lose my career.

You were constantly on edge living a lie, and being judged, you could never be your true self at times of investigation you couldn’t even trust people around you as soldiers were offered bribery to grass on others.

Not physical but mentally brutal.

I was on edge all the time, wondering if the finger of suspicion would fall on me.

It made me feel less than human at that time, persecuted for something I couldn’t help, and for something that didn’t harm anyone else.

My confidence and self-esteem were annihilated, and I was just an empty shell dead behind the eyes, nothing to live for or go on for. The despair was rampant within me.

It destroyed me.

Non LGBT-Veterans

To my everlasting regret, I reported the conversation… …I have always regretted my action. An excellent soldier was lost to the Army for no reason whatsoever.

Post-service employment

we could not adapt to civilian life together. It was hard. We were both so young when we joined and were not mentally prepared to live in ‘civie street’.

I felt lost without purpose or structure and without knowing what the future would hold for me.

Within weeks I had no job/ income, no home/ accommodation and no idea of what I was going to do next.

The sheer terror of others ‘finding out’ about my sexuality has stayed with me all my life.

Can you imagine having to hide who you are for 22 years and still having to hide even now because it has been drummed into me to believe it is wrong, illegal and disgusting.

I had lost everything, I had nothing, and I had no future to look forward to.

that part of my life was shattered and I had been carrying around the burden of a shattered self for almost 4 decades.

I somehow survived, though I was never a complete human being again. I began to pick up what I could of a shattered life and try and rebuild something again.

I was worried that even thought the ban was officially lifted i would still be dismissed from a job that i loved.

The fear of being ‘outed’ was immense, the fear of losing employment and pension. The lifting of the ban in 2000 was a huge relief.

it was a relief in the first vetting renewal interview I had post 2000, to be truthful and to be able to explain by previous lies.

It was so good as civilians to get on with being an ordinary, visible married couple.

I think they are making big strides in being inclusive nowadays. I’m just happy to see change, if my story can help in anyway then I’m happy to be a part of that change.

My experience after the ban was amazingly supportive, but I know of other pilots in similar situations who did not have the same experience…

I think it’s so important that people get to hear our stories. So many people are unaware of this part of our history and the only way to move forward is to share so that this doesn’t happen again.

I sometimes wonder how different things might have been if the Army had enabled me to achieve the potential that I was able to achieve later in life.

Whilst I had previously been very ambitious in my work life, now the ‘services no longer required’ cast a very big shadow and I felt I wouldn’t be able to apply for any meaningful profession.


I do not trust anyone now – always looking behind me as I’m not safe anymore.

I became suspicious of everyone and that lack of trust of people has lasted a lifetime.

It was a beautiful story of forbidden love which was ruined by the fear of being caught and the fact that we just couldn’t continue in the circumstances. It was heart-breaking to see it tear us apart and that is what the ban did

Sexual abuse and harassment

eventually felt I had to sleep with men very occasionally to keep my cover, I hated every minute and felt degraded and to an extent allowed myself to be raped to keep my secret.

Special Topic: Sexual Health

I was never permitted to develop my sexuality at probably the most important time in a boys developmental time

although I was now 27 years old I felt like a 17 year old experiencing true feelings and true love for the first time.

Suicide and self-harm

I would attempt to take my life a further three times, I was seen by several doctors and psychiatrists and each time told I was no risk to myself.

We will never know the full extent of the damage that has been caused by these policies and the resulting culture, but we can be certain that the cost includes self-harm and the ultimate tragedy of suicide for some.

Support services

I have absolutely no faith that absolute change will occur in my lifetime because veteran services are staffed by veterans who served when it was OK to hold people like me underwater.